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In Five Years

Review

In Five Years

We’ve all been there. That part in a job interview when you are asked, “So, where do you see yourself in five years?” You want to sound confident but not cocky. You hope your answer gains you points. But no one really enjoys this question.

Meet Dannie Cohan, the exception to that rule. Dannie prides herself on her ambition and organization. Her life plan is the envy of every woman around her. When we first encounter Dannie, she’s interviewing at one of the most competitive corporate law firms in the city, where the “in five years” question comes up. Dannie has the perfect answer: “I’ll be working here, at Wachtell, as a senior associate. I’ll be the most requested in my year on M&A cases. I’m incredibly thorough and incredibly efficient: I’m like an X-ACTO knife. I’ll be up for junior partner…. I’ll be married to David. We’ll be living in Gramercy Park, on the park…. We’ll go to the Hamptons every summer; the Berkshires, occasionally, on weekends. When I’m not in the office, of course.” And she means every word because she has spent countless hours planning it out.

So that’s why Dannie is thrown for a loop when she wakes up in a Brooklyn loft with a handsome man who is most definitely not David. She has no idea who this Aaron is and why she’s in a funky apartment with this bohemian stranger. Is she coming down with something? Is this a fever dream or a prophecy? After spending a confusing hour in this alternate reality, Dannie wakes to her old life.

"The story takes us in unexpected directions with twists and turns, but much like Dannie has to adapt, so do we as readers. In Serle’s capable hands, it’s worth the ride."

Fast forward a few years. Dannie is engaged to David and living in Gramercy Park, on the park. Life seems to be going according to plan. But she still can’t shake that odd dream. Dannie’s best friend since childhood, Bella Gold, is her polar opposite. Bella is a wild child, driven by whims and is a believer in fate. When she’s not traveling around Europe with her boyfriend du jour, she works in an art gallery and is a very talented curator. She’s outrageous as opposed to Dannie’s steadfast calm: “Her proximity is my gift; my silence is hers. I make her life smooth and solid. She makes mine bright and dazzling. This seems fair. A good trade.”

Despite David being her perfect mate, Dannie can’t seem to find time to plan their wedding. They’ve been engaged for years, but both are so busy in their corporate firms. (Dannie’s is the firm she interviewed with at the beginning of the story because, of course, she nailed the interview.) Bella calls Dannie to set a dinner date. She has big news --- she has met someone and wants to get Dannie’s approval of her new man. But when Dannie shows up to the dinner, she is shocked to see the mystery man from her “dream” of so many years ago. How could this be? Bella introduces him as Greg; his full name is Aaron Greg, but he prefers to go by his last name. Dannie’s head is spinning. She feigns illness, and she and David quickly leave the restaurant.

How is Dannie going to deal with this? Bella is her best friend, and while the men in Bella’s life are usually dispatched quickly with a nonchalance, this one seems different. Bella is hurt, feeling that Dannie doesn’t approve of Greg. What Dannie is actually afraid of is that Bella truly loves this man, and her “dream” was actually a forecast of how Dannie will stray from her well-ordered life plan and ultimately steal her best friend’s boyfriend. But as an unexpected crisis emerges, Dannie’s faith and friendship will be tested. For the first time in her life, there is no road map.

Coming off the heels of her adult debut, THE DINNER LIST, Rebecca Serle returns with a novel that also starts with a question: Where do you see yourself in five years? Some of us stick to a well-ordered plan. Others have a more laissez-faire, what-will-be-will-be attitude toward life. But who hasn’t thought about taking a step out of line, just to see what would happen? Dannie learns that you can’t plan for everything. Life doesn’t work like that. When you’re handed an alternate plan, how well will you deal with the changes?

IN FIVE YEARS shows us how Dannie weathers those changes. The story takes us in unexpected directions with twists and turns, but much like Dannie has to adapt, so do we as readers. In Serle’s capable hands, it’s worth the ride.

Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on March 11, 2020

In Five Years
by Rebecca Serle

  • Publication Date: March 10, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • ISBN-10: 1982137444
  • ISBN-13: 9781982137441